I wanted to do a sort of “guidance” post for people who are “poor”… I put quotations around poor because I’ve seen some people complain that they are poor and what they really mean is that they don’t have money. Let me explain – they have money, it’s just always gone at the end of the month with very little to spare.
Let me also offer a controversial idea in this day and age.
If you live in America.
If you live in a dwelling.
If you EVER eat out with your own money.
If you have ever once bought starbucks.
If you have a television and internet access.
If you can buy toys, games, movies, or video games.
IF you have ever gone to a zoo, theme park, or concert.
IF you are not naked.
IF you can buy clothes.
IF you can buy jewelry, make up, nail polish, etc.
You are NOT poor.
You might feel poor because there’s never any money… but you are not poor.
This is poor –
THIS is uncomfortable – (kitchen, plates, running water, storage, food, even though not a whole lot.)
I’m not here to growl at those who are poor and say, “BE MORE GRATEFUL!”
This post is more about trying to help… trust me, I hold no contempt for you regardless of which place you put yourself in. If you feel that you are in the poor category even though you live somewhere, have food and clothing, a car, and some entertainment. Then I won’t argue as I have no idea what your situation is. ^_^ You could very well be poor.
Also – as a side note. Someone living in America CAN be very horribly struggling and I COMPLETELY acknowledge that. I have been there.
My statements and comparisons were to challenge some ideas, nothing more.
Now, let’s talk about some ways towards not being stuck all the time.
Once upon a time, I was poor. Although, if I were judging by my own standards above, it was more mostly that I was “uncomfortable” …
I have to say, even though I was uncomfortable, I didn’t even know that I was that, and here’s why… My parents never treated me that way, talked about $$, complained about being poor, ever, AND my mother was smart and found ways to make things fun, exciting, different, and new!
For parents, I suggest the above. If your children feel that there’s a problem, they are going to think that there’s a problem and they are going to feel disadvantaged and like there is no hope. If they feel that they are having fun, and that everything is okay, they might not even realize that they are “poor” until later in life (like me lol).
Please, don’t feel insulted by some of my suggestions. I KNOW some of you already know these things, but you’d be surprised how many poor or uncomfortable people I’ve spoken to who do not know these things, make excuses around them, or simply don’t care to try.
First and foremost.
My first tip-
EVERYONE of working age should be working in SOME way. Even if it’s from home, or doing Mechanical Turk, or anything like that… EVERYONE who can contribute, should be. Remember the verse, “Those who don’t work, don’t eat.”
Figure out your budget. How much money do you bring in every month, and how many bills on average do you have? What do they cost? And can you pay them all?
If your answer is “yes” – and you are just barely squeaking out the other end at the end of each month. Then that’s good. You’re not in the red.
Looking at bills and talking about them… Let’s start with groceries.
A good way to make sure that there’s always enough $$$ for groceries and even SAVE some $ is to meal plan.
If you know (for instance) that there are 4 of you, and every night you can make mashed potatoes (they’re cheap, and yummy) and salad (also cheap and yummy) then you’ve gotten 2 side dishes out of the way for a few days of the weak that are good and salad is good for you. A head of lettuce is cheap, and can easily make 2-3 salads if you throw in a little cucumber, cheese, and tomato (all cheap).
My mother used to ENTERTAIN people on a poor man’s salary by getting creative with food and sales, etc. I have a bit of that gift in me as well as I have been very low on money and still managed to give people a meal.
A GREAT tip/ trick is the dollar store. IF you have one near you (or Dollar tree) go there and buy things like pasta, pasta sauce, popcicles (if you buy them) these things at regular stores cost as much as 3$ a piece. Pasta is often still cheap, but if you buy sauce, and popcicles from the dollar store, you can save at least 5$ just from that. If you buy sugar, flour, cereal (often these stores DO carry name brands) a liter of soda, chips, sliced bread, etc from the dollar store, canned soup, cream, coffee, you can save like at least 20$ Even if you buy the other groceries from the regular store, 20$ is 20$…
Here’s a quick meal for company from the dollar store, pair it down for just family.-
The 99 cent store currently carries Progresso soups. It also often carries half and half.
Get TWO cans of Progresso tomato basil soup. (2$)
A pint of half and half (1$)
A loaf of french bread (1$)
Some olive oil. (1$)
A bag of romaine lettuce (1$)
Some Caesar dressing (1$)
Croutons if you want (1$)
If the dollar store has cheese, get shredded cheddar Kraft or sargeanto, yes they carry both brands sometimes, and a white cheese, (1$, 1$)
Dessert? Grab a fancy looking box of cookies (1$) or 2 if you like (1$) and arrange them nicely on a platter.
Pour both cans of soup into a pan, add a half cup (or more) of cream (1/2& 1/2), sprinkle shredded cheese on top, let simmer, stir, serve in bowls, and top with more cheese and basil leaves (if you have them, the dollar store actually has this too)
Slice the bread, into 6-8 pieces, arrange on a cookie sheet. LIGHTLY drizzle with olive oil on the top. Pop in the oven for 5-8 minutes on 350 degrees.
Chop (makes it look fancier) lettuce after washing and stir in Caesar dressing. Top with croutons and white cheese.
Serve meal to guests who will be stunned (this is delicious, trust me).
Serve tea, and cookies for talk time.
Almost all of my guests who have been over for dinner have said that this meal is like they’re eating at a fancy restaurant. And IF we’re going all out, we’ve spent – 12$. If we’re not, we can easily put a cookie box back, and leave the bread OR the salad, and easily have a hot ready meal that costs us 8-10 instead. This meal can EASILY be a quick meal for “just the family” too. Skip the cookies, and you can (instead) slice the bread REALLY thin, smother it with grated cheese and make grilled cheese. ^_^
This recipe was just here for an example of how you can eat cheap, but still impress your peers/ guests. ^_^ But when you think in terms like that, things don’t look so bleak.
Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan. I’ve spoken with so many poor people who just go into the store and say, “We need this, this, this, this, this, this,” and end up throwing a lot of it away or just eating unnecessary food.
For example- Breakfast. Don’t just buy eggs, cheap cereal, granola bars, oatmeal (yes, I’ve actually seen poor people do this because a lot of it was cheap.) Instead, buy an extra half gallon of milk, and a box of cereal that’s on sale and THAT’S it. If you need extra, buy a tin of oatmeal that’ll last two-three weeks and there, you have a “choice…”
Again, I know some of you are reading this and totally going, “Ummm… yeah, if I had the kind of money to be buying multiple food items, I wouldn’t be calling myself “poor” … I totally get it. This is not for you then. ^_^ I can only tell you, TRUST me… I have literally spoken to people who “can’t pay their bills” who go to the store and buy this way.
But, this can be a helpful tool for $ saving when it comes to meals.
Write out a meal plan for the ENTIRE week, stick pretty closely to it, perhaps buying an extra thing or two, and you’ll have an easier time seeing some extra $ at the end of the week.
Meal planning looks like this –
Breakfast – Cereal and milk
Lunch – Ham sandwich with small salad
Dinner – tomato soup with bread.
Breakfast- Cereal and milk
Lunch- Peanut butter sandwich with chips
Dinner- hot dogs and salad.
So, from the above – Buy cereal, milk, lettuce, dressing, bread, ham slices, mayo, mustard, peanut butter, chips, hot dogs and buns. And BTW, MANY of those items can be found at the dollar store.
Next item on the list… shopping.
Again, if you already do this… this DOES NOT apply to you.
For things like-
Bathing suits and trunks.
purchase them all OFF season.
I’ll never forget- I knew someone who was always trying to save money and she was complaining that she couldn’t get her daughter a new swimsuit because it was 55$…
“FIFTY FIVE DOLLARS??! (I asked)… where?!?!”
You see, I was shocked because my mother NEVER purchased my swimwear for 55$. She purchased me a full one piece suit (nice ones) for about 18$ at most. Sometimes 15$. This woman (like many others) didn’t know that you can A, buy swimsuits at the end of the year, or just outside of summer (early Sept) or B, buy them from stores that were NOT name brands and so long as you’re not swimming every single day, they’ll last. Several of mine lasted 3-6 years.
The same thing with clothes, though. If you (for instance) are looking for a pair of boots to look classy/ snazzy in… Wait until JUST before they’re ready to take them off of the shelves, they will ALL be on sale. Some, even clearance. Wait till next year to wear them, repeat, you get into a cycle where your clothes are ALWAYS much cheaper.
Same thing with holiday items and goods. I love the dollar store, Joanne’s, and Michael’s (and of these, Joanne’s is the LEAST helpful) but- the dollar store carries wrapping paper, decorations, fine chocolates, etc for holidays. I have actually purchased full on gift bags for people FROM the dollar store and spent about 6 dollars. It looks AMAZING and it’ll be well accepted.
BUT, let’s stay out of the dollar store for a moment. I just (for instance) purchased an ENTIRE box of Christmas cards (when I say an entire box… I mean a large box, filled with about 26 boxes of Christmas cards) for 4$ because they were being clearanced from Michael’s. Guess who doesn’t need to buy Christmas cards for the next few years? (Me…)
This rule works with almost EVERYTHING that you buy. When you buy things slightly off season and then store them away, you can have TONS of nice things for your home, gifting, and clothing yourself. I can now give EVERYONE a nice card next year and it will have literally cost me 4$ to hand out cards to 50 people.
Again, this rule works with almost everything. Pants? Buy them right before summer. They’re cheaper. Boots? Same thing. Holiday decorations? Right after the holidays. ^_^
Obviously some of this involves some planning, but if you’re confident in you, I’m confident in you.
A few other tips.
This one is obvious, but again… I’ve spoken to people crying that they couldn’t save money, but still bought a venti mocha every day at SB.
If you HAVE to have a starbucks… try 5 days a week instead of 7. Try making it a tall (small) and try to start supplementing, by making coffee at HOME every morning (WAYYYYYYYYYYYYY cheaper. You’ll literally save a few hundred dollars a year that way.)
Want to have some fun? For Christmas and birthdays, ask everyone for gift cards to movie theaters, and restaurants. Use them throughout the year when you need “you” time, or just to get out.
Stop buying so much make up and accessories. It really boggles me that people who claim to be poor still do this so much (mostly women)… Seriously, buy two nice lips sticks, some eyeliner, a mascara, some foundation, blush, and three or four eyeshadow colors and GET BUY for the next 6 months. You don’t need to continuously throw your money away on make up, which can be HELLA expensive. You can also ask for these as gifts, as well, remember that.
AGAIN… if you don’t do this, this is not for you…
If you’re struggling to pay bills, but spend money on the extra pottery class, or sewing group…think about leaving it for a time. You might be able to come back in the future, but even if it only costs 20$ every 6mos, that’s still money YOU need. Instead, find free classes online, or fill time with getting creative, doing yoga (online/ free) etc.
Sometimes this doesn’t occur to people…
Look for another job. Sometimes this isn’t possible due to living in small cities or in certain situations, and I totally understand that.
But look. Get on the internet, look on craigslist, and every site that offers services like that.
If you CAN’T find a new job, you might be able to find a second one, OR side work. (So and so needs someone to watch a cat over the weekend, pays 50$)…uh, yes. Take it. LOL.
Sell some crap.
There are sites dedicated to selling your stuff, find them and get posting. ^_^
Open a savings account. When you go to the bank, EVERY paycheck, put in ten dollars. You might realize how little you NEED that 10$ if you don’t have it from the get go. It will slowly grow as you discipline yourself to do this every single paycheck. You NEVER use this money unless in TOTAL emergency. (someone is dying, etc)…end of the year? You should have around 260$… Is that a lot? No… but if you managed it, you might say, “hmmm… I didn’t spend it, I didn’t use it… I still had everything I needed… maybe this time I should put 15 dollars in there instead…) You do that, and at the end of the year, you have 600+ dollars in there. Yes, it’s growing.
Now, if you can do that- do this-
Keep an envelope or two in your sock drawer, or underwear drawer, or just somewhere no one will find it. Write “vacation” on it… Or write “dinner out” or whatever. Every single paycheck, take 5$ and put it in there. Do this as well when you have an extra 1$ bill laying around, or 50cents in change. After 6mos, go on a NICE dinner to a fancy place, or take a small getaway to a hotel.
Obviously these tips do NOT help with everything… and if you are still struggling with money, I am truly sorry.
I hope and pray that you will find a better job, that pays a little (or a LOT more). In this day and age, you can keep bettering yourself via the internet, and things that are FREE… Go to youtube, and learn a skill from someone who is teaching it free, and add that to you resume. Even if it’s playing guitar, or piano, even if it’s learning to cook, or HECK, even if it’s doing make up via watching a million tutorials. ^_^ Keep adding to your knowledge, and you just might have something that makes you a little more valuable. It’s the SAME DARN THING with your personality even. If someone has said that you are unlikeable, get some books, or find free stuff online about making yourself MORE likeable, handling pressure, etc.
Last but not least… Treat yourself. BUT PLAN it out. Don’t say, “I’m treating myself” and then treat yourself five times in a month. Plan when you’re going to do it, and make sure it’s within your budget.
I hope something helped. If not, I hope you love me anyways lol